How the Search Works

API search is hard. We haven’t seen a successful solution emerge in the last 20 years, and I think we need to think differently when it comes to this problem. We have a lot of ideas about how search should work, but we wanted to take incremental steps towards testing out what people (and systems) need when it comes to discovering APIs.

Right now, the search on is pretty simple, focusing on just a handful of areas that we feel can be individually iterated upon over time based upon what API producers need, what those search for APIs need, and what and APIs.json need.

  • APIs.json - Each published APIs.json provides a modular index of an API operation in standard format.
  • API - You can search for APIs indexed across APIs.json using keywords in title, description, tags.
  • Website Search - You can search for APIs via autocomplete keyword search returning 25 results.
  • Search Engines - Each API has a static detail page which can be indexed and searched for via web search engines.

That is it. That is all we have right now. We’d like to see more search solutions emerge that build on these four dimensions. However, there is also another important dimension to the search – the Rating System. This is ultimately what drives which way APIs get sorted via the API and the website search.

We can see providing a standard paginated search results page as part of the website search, but we’d like to hear more answers to the following before we get to work.

  • How should the API search work?
  • How is search different from Google?
  • How is search the same as Google?
  • Who will want to search for APIs?
  • Why will people search for APIs?
  • How will people search for APIs?

Right now the search is pretty basic, but the seeds are there. The ratings system is in a similar state, it is pretty basic, but the rules-based approach has serious room for growth and dialing in. Together search and the ratings system, combined with the distributed approach of an APIs.json defined search will be what sets apart from other implementations.

Most of the APIs.json in the index are hand-crafted by us. However, once API producers see their APIs listed, rated, and we showcase how consumers are searching, we are confident they’ll see the potential in maintaining their own APIs.jon file. This is when we feel that will reach a new level in the API discovery conversation. The API producer defined index combined with the search and rating system, will shift the API discovery conversation into the next stage.

Have thoughts on API discovery, and how search should work? Join the Discussion.